Like Gentlemen... but not
Severus woke up to find Giles still working at the table. “What are you doing?”
“Why aren’t you at work? I thought you went to work all day.”
“Normally I do. However, I asked Anya to watch the shop this afternoon because I had to take you to the hospital.”
“But that was rescheduled.”
“No need to tell Anya that.”
Severus contemplated that for a moment. “I suppose not.”
“You sound disappointed. Were you planning on having a party in my absence?”
“No.” Severus pouted.
Giles set down his fountain pen. “Alright, what is it?”
“You’re doing that sullen thing you do when you have something on your mind and you’re expecting me to guess the answer.”
“I am not.”
“Shall I even dignify that with an ‘are too’?”
“I am not being sullen. I’m simply being…” Severus paused as he thought through his options. Contemplative would work, but sounded a bit too whimsical. Frustrated would describe his annoyance at his physical state, but he wasn’t too eager to deal with the alternate connotations. Perhaps, he could go with the old standard, bored.
“Sullen. You’re being sullen.” Giles finished the sentence. Severus didn’t bother to answer, knowing that Giles could be as frustratingly stubborn as his father, so Giles returned to his books.
Severus sighed loudly.
Giles glanced up from his book. “Look, clearly something is amiss. Do you need the loo? Would you like something to eat? I can heat you up some broth.”
“That’s all I’ve had here, broth and tea.” Severus muttered.
“That’s all you can digest, at least until the doctor says otherwise.”
“Fine I’ll have some delightfully dull broth.”
“Of course. I live to serve.” Giles rolled his eyes as he got up out of his chair and entered the kitchenette.
“What are you reading?” Severus called out to his brother, who was opening a can of soup.
“Nothing of consequence. I was just trying to find the species of demon that we ran across last night.”
“You didn’t tell me you met a demon last night.”
“You never asked.”
“No, but you could have mentioned it. Was this before or after you were hit on the head, again?”
Yes, Giles knew he would never live that down, but he still couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “This was well before, when we were still investigating the gas leak.”
“What sort of demon was it?”
“Actually, he was rather friendly, and resembling a shar pei.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t a shar pei?”
“Last I checked, even the best domestic dog breeds were incapable of speaking English.”
“But they do a tolerable version of Dutch, so I’ve heard.” Severus teased with a straight face.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a shar pei could translate Dutch better than Travers.” Giles mused.
“So, did this demon have a pug nose?”
“No, I would say the nose was long.”
“How about the tail? Was it curled?”
“No, as far as I can tell, it did not have a tail.” Giles said, pulling a bowl down from the shelf.
“Then how can you say it resembles a shar pei? That sounds nothing like a shar pei. I think your description is flawed.”
“He had the distinctive wrinkles and droopy ears of a shar pei.” Giles looked out of the kitchenette. “You weren’t there, so you have no idea whether or not the demon resembled a shar pei, and I can’t believe we’re even having this argument over an inbred Chinese hound.”
“Is there something you’d rather argue about?”
“I’d rather not argue.”
“Has that ever been an option?” Severus rolled his head to look into the kitchen.
“Yes, I’d like to think there was a time when we could have a civil conversation like two grown men.”
“If that’s true, we certainly weren’t grown men at the time. Perhaps we simply argued like two grown men at the time?”
“No, and thank goodness for that. I much preferred arguing with you as a young wizard rather than an old one. I’d hate to find out what curses you’ve learned since Hogwarts.” Giles stared at the pot of chicken broth, willing it to boil.
“Actually, I don’t think I’ve learned many new curses since we graduated.”
“What happened to that life-long learning rot?”
“Oh, I’ve learned plenty of new potions. In fact, I’ve designed quite a few over the years. I’ve just tried to avoid the curses.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Giles smirked. “Between you and Lucius I dare say you had most of the curses of the wizarding world figured out by sixth year.”
“Well, there is that aspect of it as well.” Severus tried to shrug and ended up cursing. “Damn. As soon as these casts are off I’m going to curse those muggle doctors off the face of this earth. Do they really think coating a wound in plaster will solve anything?”
“I think the point is to prevent you from moving.”
“Well, they’ve done a bloody good job. Hopefully they will do just as thorough a job removing these things tonight.” Severus waved his broken left arm.
“I doubt they will be taking those off tonight. In fact, I won’t be surprised if it takes a couple months for you to heal.”
“Months? Months? I don’t have months!”
“Of course you do.” Giles carefully carried the bowl of soup into the living room. “There’s no point in trying to return to the wizarding world if you don’t know how the war turned out, and it takes a very long time for news to reach here. It could be years.”
“Nonsense. If Voldemort won, I think your father might mention it through that bloody ringing contraption.”
“That assumes the Watcher’s Council recognizes the threat and sees fit to notify the active Watcher. Between father and Quentin, it will be years before the threat from the wizarding world is acknowledged. We’d have better luck getting Buffy to catch this splinching wizard and beat the information out of him.”
“It’s not all bad.” Giles offered. “I’m sure we have plenty of catching up to do, and there are worse places to be exiled.”
“Name one place worse than the Hellmouth to be exiled.”
“Azkaban.” Giles answered quickly. “Last I heard, wizarding prisons didn’t have Starbucks. Now open up.”
Rupert followed a group of eager third years into the Great Hall, and found his brother already sitting at the Slytherin table. “Sev! Just the snake I wanted to see.” Rupert took a seat on the bench next to Severus.
“Did you know…” Severus turned to Rupert, with an icy gleam in his eye. “… that an owl launched from the Hogwarts Express can actually reach Hogwarts before the train?”
“You don’t say.” Rupert was beginning to get a bad feeling about this.
“Oh, it’s true. I wouldn’t have believed owls could fly so fast. But clearly, I would have been wrong.” Severus reached into his robe and pulled out a handful of parchments.
“Let’s see, Evan informs me that you are snogging your way through the Gryffindors. Lucius informs me that you’re a blood traitor.” Severus flipped through some pages. “Oh, and this was from Martha. I think she’s mad at you.” He dropped the shredded remains of what was probably a howler.
“Look, it’s not what you think. I can explain.”
“You have fifty seconds.”
“Fifty seconds, why?”
“One, two, three…”
“Oh please! That’s the most immature thing I’ve ever seen you do. For heaven’s sake can’t we just talk about this like rational adults, or at least pseudo adults?”
“… Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four…” Severus glanced over Rupert’s shoulder, apparently bored.
“Alright look. Whatever you’ve heard, it’s probably not true. This thing has gotten completely out of hand, and I need some solid advice. Come on, Sev. Don’t be a prat.”
“Forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty.” Severus finished up with an
“Oh good grief.” Rupert got out just has he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Rupert.” Lucius looked down on the boy. “Rupert, Rupert, Rupert… had a busy summer, have we?”
“Ah, Lucius, it was alright. I trust yours went fine as well. Congratulations on the prefecture.” Rupert gulped as his eye caught the shiny silver badge pinned to Malfoy’s robes. Lucius and power made for a rather volatile combination.
“Just alright? That’s not what I’ve heard.”
Rupert sent a desperate look at Severus. His brother replied with a simple shrug as if to say, “I did warn you that you had less than a minute.”
“I can’t imagine what you’ve heard, but it’s probably far more exciting than the truth… which I will gladly share with you in the privacy of the dorm room?” Rupert tried to head off any confrontation at the pass.
Lucius seemed to think it over. He glanced down the Slytherin table as if overseeing his domain, and then glanced around the Great Hall. “Alright. We’ll have a little chat after dinner.”
Rupert gave a sigh of relief, as the cold hand lifted from his shoulder.
Dinner was a horribly awkward affair, with the brothers both casting nervous glances at the Gryffindor table. “Earth to Rupert.” Damon said snapping his fingers in front of Rupert, who was looking for any sign that Margaret had given up on her quest to make Black jealous.
Just as he was turning away, Margaret glanced at him and mimed cutting off her neck, letting Rupert know he was off the hook. “I’m sorry, what?” Rupert said, with a happy smile on his face. His smile soon disappeared when he realized who was trying to get his attention.
“Are you through eating? We have certain matters to attend to.” Lucius said, setting down his fork.
“Dumbledore hasn’t excused us yet.” Rupert said, grasping for a few more minutes to come up with a plausible cover story, especially now that Margaret had called the plan off, that didn’t make him look like a complete pansy.
Just then Dumbledore stood up, wished the students a supercalifragilistic school year, and excused the children back to their dorm rooms. “You were saying?” Lucius arched one of his sculpted brows.
“Right.” Rupert sighed, standing up. “Come on, Sev.”
“Hmm, I’m sorry what did you say?” Severus looked up from staring at the Gryffindor table.
“Oh please, not you too!” Evan rolled his eyes. “Don’t mess with the lion’s den. The girls just aren’t worth it. Trust me I know.”
“Sure you do.” Rupert rolled his eyes, knowing just what the Gryffindor girls thought of ‘Poser Rosier’.
“I wasn’t checking out the girls.” From the odd looks he was getting, Severus knew he had said something wrong. He went back over his words, then blushed. “I wasn’t checking out the boys either. Oh, for Salazar’s sake.” He rolled his eyes.
“Then what were you checking out?”
“I was just thinking that maybe this was the year they finally grew up and we didn’t have to deal with the prats.” Severus said, studying his new friend Remus, who was busy laughing at Potter’s antics.
“Surely you’ve figured it out by now, Severus.” Lucius patted the raven haired boy on the shoulder. “Gryffindors don’t change, they just learn new curses.”
“Alright fine. So I take it, it’s time for the inquisition of Rupert Giles?” His voice sounded almost bored, but his eyes gave away his playful mood.
“You don’t have to sound so eager about it.” Rupert mumbled.
The boys went back to their dorm room, and cast a few silencing spells at the door before turning to Rupert expectantly. “So how was your summer?” He asked, trying to hide his nerves.
“Tolerable. And yours?” Lucius said, clearly not falling for the weak attempt at distraction.
“Look, that thing with MacDuff at the station was a complete fluke.” Having come up with nothing brilliant at during the walk back to the House, Rupert decided to settle for the truth.
“What, you want us to believe she just tripped and landed on your lips like that? It doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried.” Evan smirked.
“You’ve actually tried falling on a girl? You’re more desperate than I thought.” Rastaban shot Rosier a withering glare.
“Gentleman.” Lucius cleared his throat. “In what way was that a fluke? Please, I’m sure this will interest all of us, including your step-brother who has been feuding with the MacDuffs for how many generations is it, Severus?”
“Five.” Severus answered, watching Lucius with interest to see what new tricks the boy had picked up during the summer.
“Oh, that’s not nearly as long as I had thought. But, it still begs the question, why?”
“Honestly I was just trying to say hello to the girls of my study group,” Rupert could see Lucius make a mental note to bring that topic up again, “and she just sort of latched on to my face.”
“I see.” Lucius clearly didn’t buy the story. “She latched onto your face? Would you say like a squid? It certainly looked like that from where I stood on the platform. So, would this latching be due to spell misfire? Perhaps she was trying to turn herself into a crustacean?” The boys laughed nervously at Lucius’ poor humor.
“Look, here’s how it stands. MacDuff is trying to get at Black. She thought by jumping on me, she could make Black jealous. As Black has done nothing about it at dinner, clearly the plan has failed. I’m assuming MacDuff will get over it and find some new plan of attack that can stay within the Gryffindors. That’s all there is to it. Now can we drop the subject?”
“Why would she want Black?” Severus wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“Because she’s a girl, and girls are irrational. How should I know?” Rupert decided he’d had enough of this and began unpacking his trunk.
“But why you? I mean, everyone knows you’re….” Evan mused.
“No! No, I’m not. Whatever you were about to say, no.” Rupert turned around in a flash.
“That’s not what Martha said.” Rastaban puffed up, defending his new girlfriend.
“Look, Lestrange, Martha started that rumor to break up with me in order to go out with you. She could have just broken up with me fairly, and I would have been fine with that, but no, she didn’t want to. Honestly I don’t care. I wish you the best. I hope you and Martha live happily ever after, because if and when she dumps you, there won’t be enough of you left to clean up in the end. That’s just the way it is. Now can we forget anything we’ve heard over the summer?”
The boys watched Rupert fume in silence. Finally Rookie peeped up. “So if you’re not, why are you still in choir?”
“Grrr.” Rupert threw himself on his bed. “I give up.” He said from underneath the pillow he was currently holding over his head.
The boys watched Rupert mutter curses into his pillow until Severus pulled close the curtains on his step-brother’s bed. “Alright, inquisition over. We’ve got to unpack and start planning study schedules for OWLs.”
There was some groaning, but the boys turned back to their own trunks and began setting up their bed areas. A few minutes later, after a few hushed conversations by Malfoy’s bunk, the curtains around Rupert’s bed parted it. “What is it, Malfoy?” Rupert asked the blonde who had peeked into his area.
“Can I speak to you for a moment?”
“I don’t suppose it would matter if I said no?” Rupert muttered as self-proclaimed Slytherin prince sat down on Rupert’s bed.
“You know, I don’t believe the rumors...”
“Well thank Merlin for small mercies.” Rupert rolled his eyes.
“But,” Lucius made eye contact with Rupert. “But, I think it’s safe to say that many people at this school do.”
“They’ll get over it.” Rupert shrugged.
“Have you talked to your brother about this?”
“About what Martha’s saying? Yes, but it doesn’t really matter; he knows me well enough not to believe any of those lies.”
“In every lie there is a grain of truth.” Lucius whispered to himself, tilting his head in thought, Rupert was about to clear his thoat when Lucius continued. “I meant, have you asked Severus’ opinion on MacDuff?”
“He doesn’t have a problem with her being in my study group.” Rupert replied.
“Yes, but would he have a problem with you dating her?”
“I suppose, but it’s not really his business. He’s a Snape, I’m a Giles. I don’t have to abide by his family’s ridiculous vendettas.”
“Hmm.” Rupert didn’t like the thoughtful look on Lucius’ face. “As a matter of fact, he doesn’t mind because he doubts it will last, and is betting that the fallout will only strengthen the family’s vendetta.” Lucius informed Rupert.
“Well, if you know, why did you ask?” Rupert asked, before catching the slip. “Wait, what do you mean, fall out, I’m not dating her.”
“No of course, I just can’t help but wonder. Do you suppose dating MacDuff, would really upset Sirius Black?”
“Enough to get him to act irrationally? Maybe even try to start something in front of a professor?”
“Quite possibly. Everyone knows he’s a bit of a hot head.” Rupert could almost see where this was going. “But if he does try to start something, I would probably be on the receiving end. I’m not sure I’d want to study for OWLs while suffering from hexes.”
“I’d watch out for you.” Lucius said, shifting so that Rupert got a clear glance at the prefect’s badge on his robes.
“I just bet you would.”
“Oh, I would. If you were to piss him off enough, you could actually cost Gryffindor the House Cup.”
“Now wait a minute, Lucius….”
“No, it’s perfect, really it is.” Lucius grabbed Rupert by the shoulders and stared into his eyes. Rupert couldn’t help but be a bit worried by the iron determination he say in those grey depths. “I want you to date MacDuff until I tell you not to. Be sure to do it publicly, and in front of the other Gryffindors as much as possible.”
“How nice of you to give me permission.” Rupert was going for ironic but had a feeling it was lost on his fellow Slytherin.
“Yes, it was rather kind of me. After you disgraced our house by allowing those rumors to fly all summer, it’s the least I can do to try and return our house’s dignity.”
‘Nevermind the fact that it was the Slytherin girls who had started the rumors in the first place,’ Rupert thought bitterly. “Fine, I’ll butter up MacDuff. But when Black takes a swing at my jaw, you better take off points like its going out of style.”
Lucius grinned wickedly. “Gladly.”